So much by way of introduction. It is a difficult style of writing to keep up, particularly when the number of synonyms for “conjuring” is so strictly limited. Let me now get to the tricks. I call the first
HOLDING THE LEMON
For this trick you want a lemon and a pack of ordinary playing-cards. Cutting the lemon in two, you hand half to one member of your audience and half to another, asking them to hold the halves up in full view of the company. Then, taking the pack of cards in your own hands, you offer it to a third member of the party, requesting him to select a card and examine it carefully. When he has done this he puts it back in the pack, and you seize this opportunity to look hurriedly at the face of it, discovering (let us say) that it is the five of spades. Once more you shuffle the pack; and then, going through the cards one by one, you will have no difficulty in locating the five of spades, which you will hold up to the company with the words “I think this is your card, sir”—whereupon the audience will testify by its surprise and appreciation that you have guessed correctly.
It will be noticed that, strictly speaking, the lemon is not a necessary adjunct of this trick; but the employment of it certainly adds an air of mystery to the initial stages of the illusion, and this air of mystery is, after all, the chief stock-in-trade of the successful conjurer.
For my next trick, which I call
THE ILLUSORY EGG
and which is most complicated, you require a sponge, two tablecloths, a handful of nuts, a rabbit, five yards of coloured ribbon, a top-hat with a hole in it, a hard-boiled egg, two florins and a gentleman’s watch. Having obtained all these things, which may take some time, you put the two tablecloths aside and separate the other articles into two heaps, the rabbit, the top-hat, the hard-boiled egg, and the handful of nuts being in one heap, and the ribbon, the sponge, the gentleman’s watch and the two florins in the other. This being done, you cover each heap with a tablecloth, so that none of the objects beneath is in any way visible. Then you invite any gentleman in the audience to think of a number. Let us suppose he thinks of 38. In that case you ask any lady in the audience to think of an odd number, and she suggests (shall we say?) 29. Then, asking the company to watch you carefully, you—you—
To tell the truth, I have forgotten just what it is you do do, but I know that it is a very good trick, and never fails to create laughter and bewilderment. It is distinctly an illusion worth trying, and, if you begin it in the manner I have described, quite possibly some way of finishing it up will occur to you on the spur of the moment. By multiplying the two numbers together and passing the hard-boiled egg through the sponge and then taking the ... or is it the—Anyway, I’m certain you have to have a piece of elastic up the sleeve ... and I know one of the florins has to—No, it’s no good, I can’t remember it.